Review: Wildlife oddity 'Roar' is the can-you-believe-it discovery of the year
Credit: Drafthouse Films

Review: Wildlife oddity 'Roar' is the can-you-believe-it discovery of the year

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Ever feel like watching a lion try to eat a weeping Melanie Griffith for real?

"Roar" feels like Walt Disney decided to make a snuff version of "Swiss Family Robinson." It may be the single most irresponsible thing I've ever seen as a movie, and I have seen it three times now. I may watch it again tonight. I am that fascinated by this record of absolute madness.

Drafthouse Films has done a great job of picking up worthy new films for release, starting with "Four Lions," but they've also displayed a knack for turning up some fascinating curios, forgotten films that might otherwise never get their moment. "The Visitor" was a great example, a deranged mix of religious allegory and post-"Star Wars" blockbuster mania. One of the highlights of this year's Fantastic Fest was a screening of a film called "The Astrologer," a self-financed vanity project that defied any easy description, and I was disappointed to learn that there are copyright issues that may prevent that from getting any sort of actual release. With "Roar," though, they've come up with something that demands a trip to the theater, the sort of thing you're going to want to see with as many friends as possible.

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Review: 'District 9' director fumbles frustrating sci-fi grab bag 'Chappie'
Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: 'District 9' director fumbles frustrating sci-fi grab bag 'Chappie'

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I almost wish it was just awful, since that's easier to understand

One of the things that made that first screening of "District 9" such a tremendous surprise at Comic-Con was the way the film had flown almost completely under the radar. I remember seeing the short film he made, and I remember hearing his name mentioned in association with "Halo," but I was still blindsided by just how good "District 9" was.

When I reviewed "Elysium," I gave that film every benefit of the doubt. I went back to re-read the review tonight, and I stand by the enthusiasm of it, but not the final rating. When I re-watched the film, I felt it falling apart in front of me, and it was upsetting because I want to believe in this guy. I wrote that review from the perspective of someone who desperately wants Neill Blomkamp to make original science-fiction films that do not rely on existing properties.

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Captain America and Hawkeye on 'evolving fighting' on the set of 'Age of Ultron'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Captain America and Hawkeye on 'evolving fighting' on the set of 'Age of Ultron'

Sounds like this is even more of a Joss Whedon film than the first one

LONDON - So far, we've run our conversations with Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Joss Whedon, and Chris Hemsworth, and next up is the first conversation we had for the day, with none other than Chris Evans.

He was actually the first sign we saw after entering the Shepperton Studios lot that we had crossed into Marvel's world. A golf car drove by us with Captain America sitting next to the driver in full costume. That's one of those things that is so surreal that it took us all a moment to register what had just happened, and by that point, they had looped back around to say a formal hello.

When we sat down to talk to Evans, he joined us in the shadow of the Quinjet, a full-size set that was pretty much completely immersive when you stepped inside. Evans is always one of the most no-nonsense and direct guys you can talk to on a set, and this was no exception:

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Film Nerd 2.0 digs into the notion of 'what is appropriate' between the PG and R
Credit: Warner Bros

Film Nerd 2.0 digs into the notion of 'what is appropriate' between the PG and R

We were surprised by which of the films seemed the most explicit

It's been a strange couple of weeks of films with the boys.

First, we had a period of almost three weeks where I didn't get to see them because of all sorts of different scheduling issues. The hardest part of adjusting to life as a divided family is making my peace with the very different way the kids and I spend time together now. I've gone from having hours with them every day to having a handful of hours every couple of weeks. It makes time feel much more precious, but it can add a layer of stress, as well, because I'm constantly aware of the ticking clock.

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Drew Goddard rumored to be taking helm of Sony's 'Spider-Man' reboot
Credit: Sony Pictures

Drew Goddard rumored to be taking helm of Sony's 'Spider-Man' reboot

Will we see Iron Man in the first stand-alone Sony film?

Drew Goddard is good news no matter what film you're announcing.

I would say that Goddard is one of the most interesting guys to come out of the recent wave of TV-writers-turned-feature-writers. He's also, simply because of the way things have worked out, one of the most untapped resources working today. So it is tremendous (if not terribly surprising) news that Sony is looking to him to write and direct their second major "Spider-Man" reboot.

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Jared Leto Joker

Jared Leto's getting ready to be Joker in 'Suicide Squad'

Over the weekend, Jared Leto had hinted that something was coming at the start of the week, and today, it appears to be the Twitter feed of "Suicide Squad" director David Ayer where the something finally arrived.

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Leonard Nimoy lived long and prospered
Credit: Paramount Home Video

Leonard Nimoy lived long and prospered

One of the icons of science-fiction has passed away, and we celebrate his life and work

Film Nerd 2.0 has become one of the things I am most closely identified with, which is fine by me. I think there is real value in talking about how we introduce media to our children, and there's absolutely value in talking about how that media affects them. It wasn't a column that I consciously set out to create, though. It just sort of gradually became clear that it was something I wanted to write, and the turning point, the moment of actual creation, was all because of "Star Trek."

For Toshi, the 2009 film was not just his entry point to "Star Trek," but also his entry point to movies in general. When I took him to the theater to see the film, he stood the entire time, and he didn't want to be touched or spoken to or distracted in any way. He was fascinated, and he had a million questions afterwards. The thing that he asked more questions about than anything else was the relationship between Old Spock and Young Spock. It was the first time he was introduced to the notion of time travel and alternate universes and the idea of more than one actor playing different versions of the same role. There's a lot to unpack there for a nascent science-fiction fan, and when the box set of Blu-rays showed up at my house for the first six "Star Trek" movies, he made it very clear that he wanted to watch the films.

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Chris Hemsworth on new villains and old fears for 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Chris Hemsworth on new villains and old fears for 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'

Plus guess who we saw trading punches with Thor

If I had to rank the top ten things I've witnessed on a film set, one of those spots would be taken by the moment that occurred as a group of reporters, all flown to London by Marvel, walked out onto the upper balcony of the main room of the Avengers Tower set.

Below us, two figures stood locked in combat. Or at least, they stood locked in the rehearsal for combat, as Joss Whedon walked around them, discussing the staging of the fight. We immediately recognized one of the figures as Thor, and one of the things that I find most impressive about Chris Hemsworth is that even when they have his stunt double on set, Hemsworth is still the biggest guy in the room. He is gigantic. I'm not 100% sure I'm the same gender as Hemsworth. He is, in a word, absurd. Of course they cast him as a god walking the Earth. He's like a forced perspective trick.

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Review: 'Lazarus Effect' is effective if familiar mad scientist fare
Credit: Blumhouse

Review: 'Lazarus Effect' is effective if familiar mad scientist fare

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Would you believe this is from the guy who directed 'Jiro Dreams Of Sushi'?

Let's just assume that if you are a member of a scientific team in a horror film, things are going to end very, very badly for you.

And if the research you're doing involves life after death or, even worse, the re-animation of dead things, then the odds you die in a horrible manner increase exponentially. Unfortunately, no one warned the characters in David Gelb's "The Lazarus Effect," and the results are understandably grim.

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'Prisoners' director set to direct Harrison Ford in 'Blade Runner' sequel
Credit: Warner Bros

'Prisoners' director set to direct Harrison Ford in 'Blade Runner' sequel

It's an interesting match of filmmaker and material

Anyone who doubts the lasting power of Ridley Scott's early work need only look at the headlines this week to see how everything old seems to be new again.

Neill Blomkamp made headlines for being the first major studio filmmaker to ever win a job via Instagram, and he's been making fans crazy by talking about his approach to the upcoming "Alien" sequel. Does it ignore "Alien3" and "Alien: Resurrection" completely? Does it exists in some side universe? Where does "Prometheus 2," which everyone swears is still happening, fit into those plans?

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